How to Do SXSW Without a Badge?

11.21.2016

Soaking up the sun on a pop up Ferris Wheel during SXSW 2016.

Now, I am by no means a SXSW party expert (yes those do exist) but I have had my share of fun. South by Southwest is my FAVORITE time of the year in Austin, Texas. There are free concerts, meet and greets, food and lots of alcohol. The big question is how do you do it? 


Disclaimer:  I have never bought a badge. There are many ways to do SXSW and this is just my experience.

Preparing for SXSW is no joke. People start getting ready months in advance! I think January is a good time to start preparing. Honestly, living in the city or having friends that do make this a lot easier but there are still ways to be prepare for SXSW from afar. 

I got the chance to see my favorite artists and even meet a few of them. I admit I have too much fun at open bars and ended up going home at 5 p.m. because I am obviously very passionate about SXSW.

10 tips for SXSW 2017

1. Check event sites like Eventbrite and sign up to everything! They probably have something totally awesome happening (like an open bar). Most of these will be unofficial SXSW events but they are just as great! It also gives you something to do while you wait for your most anticipated activities.

Also, if there is a party you heard a lot about it will more than likely happen again so look it up and sign up!

Few places to look at (these tend to really get going closer to the date)
- Austin's event calendar 
- The Austin Chronicle's guide to unofficial SXSW parties
- Do 512 
- Culture Map 2016 Party List

2. Join texting groups or Facebook groups of people who are ready to party just like you. They will share links with you and if you get lucky one of those people has some insider information and get the links to you before anyone else has access! Can't join one? Create one. The more the merrier.

Jahkoy after his performance at SXSW 2016 (ignore how ridiculous I look).
3.  Sign up to the main stages; Pandora, SpotifyMTVU Woodies and Fader Fort. These usually require you to sign up, wait to see if you get approved and then you have to pick up your wristband before the shows start. Do it! It's worth getting your wristband early to avoid lines or possibly not even getting in. (FYI I have heard that some of these won't be having stages for 2017 not too sure about it though, will update if I find out.)

- I got to see Drake front row at Fader Fort in 2016. So yeah, these are great!

4. Have an open mind. If you are waiting in line and it just does not seem like you are going to get in, check your other options. I signed up for the Axe Collective party at The Belmont and it seemed to be just a small party. I ended up seeing John Legend almost front row and met Rae Sremmurd. It was a small venue and everyone else was trying to get into the bigger parties so I got these artists all to myself. 

My best friend and I after 10 maybe 20 (free) mimosas.

 5. Wander. Pop in and out of places. Don't be afraid to go up to the door and ask what's happening and if you can go in. My best friend and I went into a random bar and got to see a concert with Blue October and free mimosas. There were max 30 people there.

Best tip: Wander because you will find lots of free food!

6. Don't be afraid to go alone. You will make friends. It's a college town so most of the party goers are young and excited to be out and meet some people to drink with. I was in line to see DJ Kahled by myself and met the coolest people!


John Legend performing at SXSW 2016.

7. Sign up to sites that send updates on what's coming up.


Niykee Heaton at SXSW 2016 in Austin, Texas.
8. Twitter. It is super useful during SXSW. Follow people who are true party experts (told you they exist) they will tweet out what's happening, where to go, where the free food is, what lines are too long, what has been shut down, etc. Also search tags like #sxsw, #austin, #sxsw2017, to help get you live updates.

Follow your favorite venues and bars in Austin. They WILL have something happening. Remember to turn your notifications on!

Awesome Twitter accounts you should definitely follow for SXSW
@OpenBarAtx
@ATXConcert 
@SXSW2017Austin
@CameronAtSX
@ChrisKeegan


Front row at Fader Fort while Drake performed 2016.
9. Take a portable charger! If you don't there will be a charging station at the Pandora house but trust me your phone will die within the first three hours. You need your phone to show RSVP's at the door and check what's next on your list!
Rae Sremmurd and I before they performed at The Belmont 2016.

10. Go to shows of people you don't know! You will find new artists to love and get a chance to chat with them before they become famous. I got to see Gallant twice and now I am obsessed with his music. Also, more famous artists ALWAYS pop up at these smaller venues. I got to see Steve Aoki at a hole in the wall bar during SXSW 2015.

And lastly, be persistent. Stay on top of you RSVPS, make schedules and go for it. Focus and get ready to have the best experience of your life!

If you have any tips feel free to leave them down below and share with us who you have seen at SXSW?

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